The No Cry Sleep Solution, Second Edition

Moving Naps from Your Arms to the Crib (Excerpt)

Having a baby fall asleep in your arms is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But it can become a challenge if that’s the only way your little one will nap. Life is filled with responsibilities and there are times when having your baby nap peacefully in their crib is a blessing that allows you to tend to your other children, or get some work done that requires two working arms. It can also help your day flow so that you can fully enjoy your baby during waking hours.

Sleepy instead of Sleeping

An important key to successful crib-naps is to help your baby become comfortable when put into bed sleepy – instead of fully asleep. Believe it or not, with practice your baby can fall asleep this way! If you think you like the sound of this idea, there is no harm, no risk and no tears involved in giving it a try. The following tips can help get you there.


“I think one of the most helpful ideas was to sometimes put him down when he was tired but awake—he surprised me by allowing it so often!”

~ Judith, mother of three-month-old Harry

Have Practice Sessions

Several times a day have a short, relaxed playtime with baby in the crib with you nearby to provide entertainment – singing, talking or showing toys. These sessions can help build a positive association with the bed that will carry over to naptime.

Make Your Baby Comfortable

Babies are as different from each other as we adults are, and you’ll learn to understand your own baby’s preferences over time. Here are a few ideas for making your baby comfortable enough to fall asleep unaided. Experiment with them, and you’ll soon discover which are best for your little one:

Cozy Cradle, Sleepy Place

It can help to set up a welcoming sleep place to aid with falling asleep. Make sure your baby’s mattress is comfortable, as many that come included in a cradle or bassinet are hard and stiff. Use soft sheets, such as fleece or flannel (always use bedding made to fit your baby’s exact mattress size) and keep the room dark and quiet except for white noise – try a machine that provides the sound of ocean waves or rainfall.

Smaller Space

Many babies feel overwhelmed in a big crib. Your baby may find a smaller cradle or bassinet more to their liking. (Make sure that the cradle is labeled as safe for unattended sleep.) Even a toddler can benefit from this idea, so create a small nap-nook or fort. Ready-made toddler beds with tents can make a nice daytime sleep spot.

Good Smells

A baby’s sense of smell is more defined than that of an adult. Research shows that a baby can recognize their own mother or father by smell. If you have a small stuffed animal or baby blanket, you can tuck it in your shirt for a few hours, and then place it beside the cradle while baby sleeps. (Follow all safety precautions, which include not placing this object directly in bed with a newborn.)

A Warm Bed

When a sleepy baby is placed on cold sheets, they can be jarred awake. While you are feeding your baby, you can warm the sleeping spot with a wrapped hot water bottle or a heating pad set on the lowest setting. Remove the warmer from the crib before you lay your baby down, and always run your arm slowly over the area to make sure it’s not too hot.

A Gently Rocking Bed

Many newborns fall asleep much more easily in a moving bed that is gently rocking or swaying rather than a still surface. (Be sure the bed is sturdy and safety-rated for sleep.)

Perfect Timing

Pay close attention to your baby’s ‘happily awake span.’ A little one who is awake for too long a stretch can get a second-wind and refuse sleep. Watch the clock for approximate sleep time and observe your baby for signs of tiredness. Make sure Baby is well-fed and has a dry diaper, dim the lights, turn on the white noise and place your baby gently into bed.


By following these ideas, you can gradually and lovingly help your baby learn how to fall asleep in the crib. And you can do this without tears (yours or theirs).


Excerpt from The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill, 2020).

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